Bowen’s Disease

What is squamous cell carcinoma in situ?

Squamous cell carcinoma in situ, often called Bowen’s disease, is a growth of cancerous cells that is confined to the outer layer of the skin. It is not a serious condition, and its importance rests on the fact that, very occasionally, it can progress into an invasive skin cancer known as squamous cell carcinoma. For this reason, dermatologists usually treat, or at least monitor, Bowen’s disease.

What causes it?

Most cases of Bowen’s disease develop as a result of long-term sun exposure, and it is more likely in those receiving long term immunosuppression medication. Very occasionally, Bowen’s disease may be seen following radiotherapy, longstanding arsenic ingestion (very rare nowadays) or on the genitals in association with the virus that causes warts (the human papillomavirus). Bowen’s disease is neither infectious, nor due to an allergy.

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